I liked it. A lot.
It has significantly enhanced detail and imaging compared to a Virtue Piano playing through a Dodd Battery/Twisted Pear Buffalo DAC. Interestingly (to me) CD's ripped through Exact Audio Copy to this server played cleaner through the server than through the original cd.
Very bravely, fellow AC member HAL (Rich) sent me one of his Windows 7 based Music servers to try out. You see, he understood that I have just become comfortable with Windows XP. Unlike most of the folks on this circle, I use computers until I can't, then haul them to someone to fix it. When they finally tell me it can't be repaired because they don't make the stylus/clay tablet operating system anymore, I buy a rebuilt Dell and move on.
In spite of my computer ignorance (or possibly because of it), Rich decided to have me do a test drive.
The very small computer arrived, and in short order all things were hooked up and set up. A few songs were pre- loaded, and I got them playing quickly. Downloading HD files was a bit of a challenge. I had never ripped a cd before. It took a significant amount of Rich's time to bring me up speed, but finally, I could sit in my listening position, access the server though a laptop, and listen to music. Sure it would have been faster if I'd had a teenager in the house, but I managed, even at 59.
There are lots of systems here in AC land fancier than mine, but mine isn't shabby. Moscode 401HR with Mundorf caps, Dodd battery pre, Silkworms, GR-Research LS-9 kit with a properly deadened cabinet and quality xover, and a fair amount of room treatment. The Music Server USB was run to Musiland and to the Sabre Dac.
Well, the HD stuff was excellent- to be expected. But ripping some of my top Redbook cd's to the server, and playing them back was unexpectedly much different- improved detail (some never heard before), tighter imaging, more real vocals, better defined bass. I don't know what creates these improvements- although no spinning hard drive is supposedly quite important to eliminate jitter as well as other computer stuff. But I know when I have heard an improved product, and it usually cost me $$ when I hear it. So now I have to send Rich a check, because he isn't getting his semi prototype back. Fortunately it isn't a great big check. I don't know if Rich is ready to get into production, but watch for it.
I think the bit of feedback that Rich most liked was when I told him that my LS9's finally matched the sound of the prototypes in Danny Richie's living room. Danny has a heck of a rig, and moving to that level is quite an achievement.
I almost forgot to mention, this thing is tiny... think small cigar box. The wife likes it.
If, like me, you have seen that computerized music is coming, but have been reluctant to jump in, this may be what you have been waiting for. This is a very high quality way to move to computers. Congrats, Rich.